Revelation 8 - How a Bill Becomes a Law

Thursday, June 5, 2008

When a Senator or a Representative introduces a bill, he sends it to the Clerk of the House (whose name is Mort, consider sending him a card for his birthday) who gives it a number and title ("Led Zeppelin IV" as Mort is always disappointed to find, is already taken) This is called the first reading and the bill is then referred to the proper committee (one not staffed, note, by lumberjacks).

Rules for dealing with Congressional Committees Staffed by Lumberjacks:

Don't look lumberjacks directly in the eye while they are feeding. Lumberjacks are bearded, brawny men and should not be challenged when they are "gettin' they grub on."

Unless they are eating spiral cut ham. But then, only look in the left eye of the lumberjack. The left eye of the lumberjack who consumes an entire spiral cut ham is captivating. It's enchanting. It's a dreamworld of magic and will take you to a transcendent place much like ecstasy or ramming your head over and over into the refrigerator.

Quit that, by the way. That's not cool.

Lumberjacks do not know the meaning of the word "naugahyde." Do not lord this over them. They are simple, hardworking folk and they don't cotton to you big city types and your 'tudes.

Do not taunt lumberjacks. Your words crack their souls.

The committee may decide the bill is unwise or unnecessary and table it, thus killing it immediately.

I was tabled once.
Best weekend of my life.

Or it may decide the bill is worthwhile and hold hearings to listen to facts and opinions presented by experts and other persons of interest (I, for example, am interested in Moby. His head so round and shiny…it haunts me in the nighttime. Come to me, Moby. Come to me, be with me, let my powerful arms envelope you and keep your tears at bay. Sweet, beautiful, heartbreaking Moby. Let me sing to you my song of love.)

Oh, Moby. Well you came and you gave without taking but I sent you away,

oh Moby

well you kissed me and stopped me from shaking And I need you today, oh Moby

After members of the committee have debated the bill and perhaps even offered amendments (for example, I continually write my congressman hoping to get the following jingle from the Kewpies restaurant in Lima, Ohio as the replacement National Anthem for the overly militaristic Star Spangled Banner:

Hamburg, pickle on top
Makes my heart go flippity-flop)

...a vote is taken; and if the vote is favorable, the bill is sent to the floor of the house. The clerk (Happy Birthday, Mort!) reads the bill sentence by sentence to the house, and this is known as the second reading (in cooking class in 8th grade, I made twice baked potatoes...I recall them as being tasty, but I was a chubby kid, so the bar wasn't real high with sewing, I made a shirt, it was blue with a yellow collar, I wore it, it was scratchy. Hey, here's a good story, I took square dancing in 9th grade gym. I'll tell you that one sometime…no, not you, you I won't tell…you, yeah, you, I'll tell you.) Members can then debate the bill and offer amendments. In the House of Representatives, the time for debate is limited by a cloture rule (cloture is a great smart guy word for time limits - next time you're in a position where you want to get rid of someone who has overstayed his welcome, say, you know some random dude who you have desperately tried to let down gently, but, for some unknowable reason, just won't get the hint, invoke cloture on his ass. You don't got to go home, but you can't stay here, people.) but there is no such restriction in the Senate for cloture, where 60 votes are required (I voted 60 times for that Katherine McPhee to win American Idol, for example. Goddamn Taylor Hicks. Why do bad things happen to good people? My God – Why Hath Thou Forsaken Hotass Katherine McPhee?). This makes possible a filibuster in which one or more opponents hold the floor to defeat the bill.

I swore I’d stop talking about Katherine McPhee. I may need to invoke cloture on this blog.

The third reading is by title only ("Led Zeppelin IV?" Mort whispers hopefully) and the bill is put to a vote, which may be by voice or roll call depending on the circumstances and parliamentary rules (Rule 128 of Robert's Rules of Order - all meetings will begin with a kickass acoustic rendition of The Killers' "Mr. Brightside".) Members who must be absent at the time but who wish to record their vote may be paired if each negative vote has a balancing affirmative one (this one time, at band camp....I don't know how that fits there, but it struck me funny to say).

The bill then goes to the other house of Congress, where it may be defeated or passed with or without amendments (With or Without Amendments, best U2 song on parliamentary procedure ever). If the bill is defeated, it dies (can we have a funeral for it in the backyard, Daddy? Will the bill go to heaven with grandma and Red Auerbach?) If it is passed with amendments, a joint Congressional committee must be appointed by both houses to iron out the differences (I don't own an iron, but I do have this wrinkle remover spray thing that doesn't contain any ingredient listings...what type of magical aerosol substance exists that removes wrinkles and can I make sweet love to it? These are the questions on the minds of the American public, I am just the messenger. If there's one thing, as the midterm election approaches, that the average American cares about, it's how many canned consumer products exist into which Jim can insert his mighty dong and when do they go on sale?)

After its final passage by both houses, the bill is sent to the President. If he approves, he signs it, and the bill becomes a law ("that's right, bitches, now I'm a law - suck on that, you loser bills") However, if he disapproves, he may veto the bill by refusing to sign it and sending it back to the house of origin with the reason for the veto ("this bill is crackin' on my sexy" or "it doesn't contain a single mention about Jack Griffin, NCAA amateur wrestling champion in 1910 at 118 pounds" or "BaBa Booey"). The objections are read and debated and a roll call vote is taken. If the bill receives less than a two-thirds vote, it is defeated and goes no farther (farther's a funny word, say it five times, people, just let it roll around your throat, it's funny to say). But if it receives a two-thirds vote or greater it is sent to the other house for a vote. If that house also passes it by a two-thirds vote, the veto is overridden.

Should the President decide neither to sign nor veto the bill, he may retain it for ten days, Sundays excepted, after it automatically becomes a law without signature. However, if Congress has adjourned within those ten days, the bill is automatically killed, that process of indirect rejection being known as a pocket veto.

I said…a pocket veto.

The process of indirect rejection known as a pocket veto…

I had a pocket veto once.

Best weekend of my life.

And that's how a bill becomes a law.

1 comment

Anonymous said...

[color=#0066cc]Great web site! I haven't landed on before in my searches!I found very useful information about
[/color] [url=]akne[/url] [color=#0066cc]here... Keep up the great work![/color]

Blogger Template created by Just Blog It